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Episode 27

 

Release Date:  June 23, 2006

 Read the episode Recap

 

Previously...

After stealing the rights to The Murderess from Will and giving it to Brett, Heather cautioned Brett not to go back on their deal.  Brett promised that he would give Heather the starring role in the film.  Stormy was shocked to learn that Brett was running Sunset Studios.  James and Brooke announced their plans to remarry. Alex and Marilee made plans for their new venture into the natural gas industry. Heather made plans to break things off with Will, but he presented her with a diamond necklace before she could follow through.  Ethan accused Heather of being the mole who stole the script from Jaguar Studios.  Brooke saw a mysterious person following her.  Will vowed revenge against James for stealing The Murderess from him.  At Brett's request, Gwen continued giving James the pills that would keep him immobile.  Stormy and Heather made peace with their impending divorce.  

 


 

Episode 27

"Wedding 2"

 

Two days later the house was busy with preparations for James and Brooke’s wedding.  Against James’s insistence, Brooke had arranged for a much simpler ceremony than their first almost a year earlier.  Only family was invited for the exchange of vows in the library.  After some coaxing by Brooke, James agreed that an elaborate wedding wasn’t necessary.  They were going to be married and that was the most important thing.

Brooke was in the bedroom getting dressed when Miranda entered in a simple wine colored dress, her black hair pinned up in an elegant style.  She looked at Brooke and was immediately reminded of the last time her father married the former make-up girl.  She hadn’t been present during the ceremony because she’d been off in Vegas marrying Brett.  The car accident, the heated exchange with her father, and the disappointment that he was marrying someone else had brought her emotions to a boiling point.  As much as she hated the idea that they were getting re-married, she didn’t wish to have a repeat performance.  One thing she couldn’t do, however, was bite her tongue about her true feelings.

“The minister just arrived,” Miranda announced as she strode into the room carrying a small bouquet of white roses.  “Are you almost ready?”

“Almost,” Brooke said and turned toward the young woman.  “Miranda, I’m glad you’re here because I want to talk to you.”

“I want to talk to you too,” Miranda said with a flourish.  “Brooke, I know we’ve had our differences, and I’m not going to pretend I’m happy about this marriage, but I want you to know that if you’re what my father wants, then I’m not going to try to spoil it for him.”

“That’s good,” Brooke replied evenly.  “Because I won’t let you.  Miranda, I love your father.  We’re going to have a baby.  Even if you wanted to, there’s nothing you could do to stop that.  You could even run me over with your car like last time and we’d still be getting married today.  I just want you to know that.”

Miranda set her jaw and stepped forward.  “Just as long as you know that I won’t let you hurt him again,” she said.  “So if there are any more secret husbands or affairs that you’re trying to hide-“

“There aren’t,” Brooke cut her off.  “James is very lucky to have you looking out for him.  I’m sure he appreciates it.  But I guarantee I’m not going to do anything to hurt him.”

“I hope not.  For your sake.”

After Miranda left the room, Brooke turned back to the mirror and examined her reflection.  Somehow she felt a little more at ease now that she and Miranda had it out.  It wasn’t going to be easy, but at least they understood each other.

Jasmes Blackthorne

Downstairs, James was in the library seated in his wheelchair by the fireplace.  He heard someone enter and looked up as Stormy approached him timidly, dressed handsomely in a dapper black tuxedo.

“Dad, I need to talk to you,” Stormy began.  “I know this is a busy day for you but things can’t go on the way they have been.  I need to explain to you why I didn’t come back when I heard about your operation.”

James turned away in an effort to avoid eye contact with his son.  “I don’t think this is the best time, Stormy,” he said dismissively.

“It has to be,” Stormy replied as he walked toward him.  “I don’t want this tension to continue between us.  Especially today.  It's your wedding day.”

James took in a deep breath and nodded his head reluctantly.  “You’re right, Son,” he began.   “This is a special day for all of us.  There’s no room for petty arguments.  I know you were only doing what you had to do.  You’re a grown man and you have a life of your own.  I shouldn’t expect you to run back at the first sign of trouble.”

“It isn’t that I don’t care,” Stormy announced.  “You know that, don’t you?  I love you, Dad.  I always have.”

James looked at him and felt his eyes tearing up.  He nodded with a smile and extended his hand to him.  “I love you too, Son,” he said as they shook hands.  “And I’m glad you’re here today to stand up for me.  I’d like you to be my best man in the ceremony if that’s okay.”

Stormy grinned happily and nodded with acceptance.  “I’d be happy to,” he said, then paused hesitantly.  “What about Brett?  I know the two of you have gotten close these past few months.  Are you sure you don’t want him to stand up for you?”

James shook his head.  You’re my son.  Brett has proven himself to be a valuable member of this family, but he can’t take the place of my only son.”

Relieved to hear the words from his father, Stormy gave an elated nod.  He decided this was a good time to bring up his suspicions about his brother-in-law.  “You know, Dad, I have some concerns about Brett.  I’m not so sure he’s as valuable as you think he is.”

Frowning, James wheeled closer to him.  “How do you mean?”

Stormy didn’t want to get into the whole mess with Lauren and the way Brett had cheated on Miranda, because by now it was water under the bridge and nobody would take him seriously.   “You know his history, Dad.  He spent his whole life conning people just to get by.  Now he’s the head of Sunset Studios.  I’m just concerned that he might do something to risk everything you’ve worked for.”

“A profitable business means taking risks.”

“But doesn’t it concern you that a con man is running your company?  Don’t you wonder how he managed to get those movie deals from Will Thomerson?”

James paused and shrugged indifferently.  “All’s fair in business, especially when it comes to Will Thomerson.  You know how he tried stealing the studio from me.   As far as I’m concerned all bets are off.”

Neither of them noticed Brett as he started to enter the room.  He paused in the doorway after hearing their conversation, ducking back into the hallway safely out of view so he could listen to every word.

“I don’t know,” Stormy said, shaking his head.  “I just have a feeling that he’s up to something no good.”

“This wouldn’t have anything to do with the way you two left things before you left town last summer would it?”

Stormy sighed and dug his hands into his pockets.  “No, I’m talking about now.  I don’t trust him.  This isn’t personal, Dad, it’s-“

“Not personal?” James asked doubtfully.  “Stormy, it’s understandable that you feel threatened by your sister’s husband.  I think you’re just letting your imagination get the better of you.  I trust Brett to run things the way he sees fit.”

In the hallway, Brett smiled with satisfaction.  He knew that James would be on his side.  Stormy was still an outsider in his own house.  No one would give a second thought to his delusional concerns.

Frustrated that he wasn’t getting through to his father, Stormy ran his fingers through his tousled hair and began to pace the room.   “The other day you asked me what I planned on doing now that I was back,” he began.  “Well I think I’ve decided.  I want to get involved with the studio.  I want to make you proud of me, Dad.”

James didn’t hide his surprise.  “I thought you weren’t interested in the movie business,” he began.  “Your passion has always been music.  You remember how upset I was when you said you didn’t want to take part in Sunset Studios.”

“Yes, but things are different now.  I lost my recording studio and I’ve changed my mind.  I want to help as much as I can until you’re up and on your feet.”

James smiled and folded his hands in his lap.  “And I suppose you want me to send Brett packing, right?”

Stormy shrugged as if to say that’s exactly what I want.

“I don’t know, Son.  Brett has done a great job running things.  I don’t think I can just ask him to step down.”

“But I’m your son,” Stormy argued.  “If you’re not running the show shouldn’t it be me?  Your own flesh and blood?”

James shook his head and pondered the idea.  He wanted to be fair to his son, but he couldn’t let Brett go just yet.  He was doing good things at Sunset Studios.  He needed him there, especially since he’d managed to one-up Will Thomerson. 

“Dad-“

“Listen, we’ll talk about this later, okay?” James said.  “I don’t want to keep my bride waiting.”

Stormy sighed with aggravation and decided to shelf the topic for the time being.  He would approach his father again later.  There was no way he was going to back down and let Brett ruin everything.

Outside in the hallway, Brett smiled gleefully.  He knew James wouldn’t hand over his studio to someone as unreliable as Stormy.   He was safe as a kitten.  And now that he had taken steps to ensure James would never walk again, he’d be running Sunset Studios forever.  Stormy would be left with nothing.

He turned just as Heather and Miranda approached, leading the minister into the library.   “Are we all set?” he asked, kissing Miranda on the cheek.

“Yep,” Miranda replied with a smile.  They started into the library when Heather grabbed Brett’s arm and pulled him back.   They quietly ducked around the corner out of view as everyone gathered for the ceremony.

“I need to talk to you,” Heather said in a whisper.

“Now?” Brett asked with irritation.  “The wedding’s about to start-“

“This will only take a minute,” Heather replied with wide eyes.  “I haven’t seen the contract I asked for.  You remember, the one promising me the lead in The Murderess.”

A devilish grin spread across Brett’s face as he leaned against the wall.  “About that, I don’t think that you’re right for this role.  I have a few other actresses in mind.”

Heather glared at him menacingly, blocking him from walking past her.  “You promised me that role in exchange for getting you the script from Will Thomerson,” she lamented.  “I had to sleep with him, Brett.  I had to let him put his hands all over me just so I could make my way into his life and steal for you.  You owe me big.  If I don’t get that part, I swear to God I’ll-“

“You’ll what?” Brett challenged her.  “If you tell Thomerson that you took the script and gave it to me, he’ll destroy you.”

“I’ll tell James.”

Brett laughed wickedly.  “He won’t care.  The rules don’t apply when it comes to his vendetta against Will Thomerson.  You should know that.  Heather, you don’t have anything to hold against me.  I’m in the clear.  Why don’t you go to your father and ask him to give you a role in one of his movies?  You just don’t have what it takes to star in a Sunset Studios film.”

Heather cowered away in anger, feeling her eyes stinging with tears.  She’d made a horrible mistake.  If she hadn’t stolen the movie deal from Will, he would have put her in the film.  But instead she supplied Brett with what he needed and was still going to end up with nothing.  It was a bitter irony that left her feeling cold and empty.

Everyone began taking their places inside the library.  The minister stood in front of the fireplace with James and Stormy at his side.  Brett approached and took his place, followed by a reluctant Heather who stood next to Miranda.

Moments later, Brooke entered the room in her satin wedding gown, smiling from ear to ear as she walked up and stood next to James.  They looked at each other for a long time, the joy building with every second.

The minister stood before them and began the ceremony.

Will's House

Ethan entered Will’s study at the Thomerson estate and found him seated behind his desk with a thoroughly infuriated look on his face.  He took a deep breath and approached with a tentatively uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.

“Did you go see James?” he asked.

“A lot of good it did me,” Will replied.  “My new neighbor up the street claims he knows nothing about what’s going on with his studio.  But I don’t believe it for a second.  There’s no way he would pass up an opportunity to try to bring me down.  He even had the nerve to accuse you of betraying me.”

“Me?” Ethan asked in disbelief.  He knew his uncle was furious with him, but to accuse him of something so devious was too much.    He hesitated briefly, trying to determine whether telling Will about Heather’s deception was a good idea or not.  It was clear that he had no clue that she’d been spying.  Telling him would break him, he was sure of it.  Somehow Will had grown attached to Heather and in his own way maybe even loved her.  Maybe by simply telling her he was on to her would put an end to it and he could leave it alone for the time being.

“It seems that your uncle and Brooke Taylor are remarrying today,” Will said as he flipped through the society pages in the Times.  “If you ask me it’s for the best.  They deserve each other.  I know you were upset when she chose him over you, but honestly I think you’re better off, Ethan.”

He barely acknowledged the remark.  Even the thought of Brooke and James together again was enough to drive him insane.  How she could have gone back to him after everything they’d shared together was beyond him.  They were the ones in love.  Or at least they used to be.   For a while, when he thought the baby she was carrying was his, he assumed they would get back together.  But after her announcement claiming that James was indeed the father, he’d lost all hope.

“What Brooke and I had is in the past,” Ethan said, as if trying to make himself believe the words as he spoke them.  “I’ve moved on.”

Will studied his expression and gave a nod of his head.  “Listen, why don’t you go home.  It’s Saturday and I’m sure you’re not into work mode right now.  I’ll see you on Monday.”

Ethan pursed his lips together and nodded before leaving the study and returning to his car outside in the driveway.  Will leaned back in his rich leather chair and picked up the newspaper with the picture of James on the front.

“Sooner or later I’ll bring you down, James Blackthorne,” he said to himself, lifting a glass of bourbon to his lips.  “I’ll take everything from you.  Your nephew, your studio, your sanity.  And then I’ll take Alex Reynolds down with you.  Then Jordan Rydell and his daughter.  They’re just as bad as you are.”  He opened a drawer and removed a copy of the paper announcing Alex and Jordan’s wedding several months before.  The picture of them on the society page was enough to make him see red.

“I’ll get you all.  And Heather Blackthorne may be the one thing I need to do it.”  He set the paper down next to the picture of James and looked at his three enemies as if they were in the room with him.  “You sent a spy to my house to ruin my company and I’ll pay you back in spades.  I promise you that.”

With an evil grin, he swirled the dark liquid around in his glass and swallowed it down with one gulp.

Hotel Terranova

A short while later, Ethan sat at the bar in the lounge at Hotel Terranova, drowning his sorrows in shot after shot of whiskey.   He looked around the crowded room, noting the elegant woman clad in lavish gowns dancing with men in suits and tuxedos.  He felt a little out of place in his wrinkled suit and loosened tie hung shoddily around his neck.  It certainly wasn’t his best night, or year for that matter.  Brooke, the woman he’d loved, and possibly still did, was now married once again to his uncle, who had subsequently exiled him from his life.   The baby he’d hoped he would have the opportunity to raise wasn’t his after all, and he was stuck working a lackluster job for a man he didn’t particularly like. 

After ordering another drink from the bartender, he turned on his stool just as a ravishing raven-haired woman with flawless skin and dazzling dark eyes sat down next to him.   He couldn’t help but look twice.  Something about her was mesmerizing.

“I’ll have a dry vodka martini,” said Janet Harper to the bartender with a wave of a twenty-dollar bill.

I’ll get that,” Ethan said with a sheepish grin as he paid for his own drink.

Janet turned to him and smiled appreciatively.  “Well thank you,” she said.  “But I have to caution you, if this is a pick-up I’ve really had a day from hell and I don’t know that I’m in the mood.”

Ethan laughed at her candor and shook his head.  “No, I just thought you looked like you could use a friend,” he said.  “And I guess I was right.  Neither of us have had a very good day I’m assuming.”

“You too?” she asked with a laugh and accepted the drink from the bartender.  “Are you a guest in the hotel?”

He shook his head.  “No, just here drowning my sorrows.”

“I see that.”  She extended her hand to him.   “I’m Janet Harper.”

“Ethan Blackthorne,” he replied.

Janet tossed her long black hair over her shoulder and set her drink down.  “Hmmm,” she said ominously.

Hmmm what?”

“I seem to keep running into Blackthornes lately,” she said.  “So who are you?  Another son of James the movie mogul?”

“His nephew,” Ethan corrected her.  “How do you know the Blackthornes?”

Janet idly turned her drink in circles on the napkin and stared in a daze at the shimmering liquid.  “I’m a reporter for the Denver Tribune.  I was following a lead on a story in Phoenix last week and spotted Brooke Taylor.  I’d heard that James Blackthorne had been trying to locate her for quite some time, so-“

“Ahh, you’re the reporter who brought them back together,” Ethan said.  “I’m assuming he owes you a big debt of gratitude.  They got married today, you know.”

She raised an eyebrow and studied his expression. “You don’t seem too happy about that,” she said.  “Do I detect a hint of jealousy?”

Ethan smiled.  “You are a reporter, aren’t you?” he asked.  “That’s the only explanation for your perceptive nature.”   He sipped his drink and turned to face her directly.  “So what are you doing in L.A.?  Did my uncle promise you a reward and you’re still waiting around for the payoff?”

“No, I’m working on another story here,” she said.  “I’m staying at Hotel Terranova while I’m in town."

“Well then you must have met James’s daughter, Miranda Armstrong.  She runs this place.”

“I’ve heard that,” Janet said.  “And he has a son, correct?  Ryan, isn’t it?”

Ethan nodded.  “Except he goes by Stormy.”

“Right.  I think we’ve met in passing.”

“Well you seem to be very acquainted with the Blackthornes,” Ethan said.  “I’m sorry that we haven’t met sooner, Miss Harper.”  He couldn't help but flirt a little.  A woman as attractive as Janet Harper was hard to ignore.

“As am I,” Janet replied with a wink.  She stepped off the bar stool and grabbed her purse.  “Will you excuse me for just a moment?”

He nodded and watched as Janet made her way through the lounge toward the ladies room.   As she passed the hotel concierge, he stopped her and offered a pleasant smile.

“Miss Harper, is everything satisfactory with your stay?” the concierge asked.

Janet smiled in return.  “Yes, very much so.  Thank you.”

“Good.  And I see you met up with Mr. Blackthorne."  He gestured to the bar where Ethan was sitting.  “I’m glad you were able to find him.”

Janet nodded and clasped her hands together.  “Yes, thank you so much for calling me in my room and telling me he was here,” she said.  “I really appreciate your discretion in this matter.”

“My pleasure, Miss Harper,” the concierge said before turning and starting back toward the hotel lobby.

Blackthorne Mansion

Late that night, James and Brooke were in their bedroom upstairs.  After she helped him into bed, she changed into a lacy powder blue nightgown and stepped out of the bathroom with a radiant smile on her face.  James looked up at her and moaned with approval.  He’d never seen her look so beautiful, even the day they got married the first time.  Being pregnant agreed with Brooke and she didn’t loose a trace of her feminine quality.

“Hello Mrs. Blackthorne,” he said.

She grinned from ear to ear and clasped her hands together.  “I love the sound of that,” she said.  “James, I think this is the happiest day of my life.  I can’t begin to apologize for all the trouble I’ve caused you.”

“Nonsense,” he said.  “The past is the past.  I’m just glad that you’re here with me now and you’re my wife again.  And before you know it we’ll have a beautiful baby to share our joy with.  You’ve made me the happiest man in the world.”

She rubbed her pregnant stomach and sighed with frustration.  “I’m only sorry that tonight can’t be as special as our wedding night should be,” she said.  “But at this late stage of my pregnancy, Dr. Mitchell says I shouldn’t….you know.”

He gave her a wink and nodded his head.  “I can wait,” he said.  “Just having you here is more than enough to satisfy me.”

Brooke felt awkward about bringing up the subject but she decided now was as good a time as any.  “James, speaking of us having sex….” She paused, taking a few steps toward the bed.  “Can you…I mean, does your paralysis prevent you from….”

“Not at all,” he said with a chuckle, patting the side of the bed with his hand.  “We’ll just have to get creative with how we do it.”

“Good, because as soon as this baby comes I plan on making up for the past few months,” she said with a grin.

James raised an eyebrow and gazed longingly at her.

“Don’t forget to take those pills Gwen left for you,” Brooke said as she sat down in bed next to him and gestured to the nightstand.  “And I don’t want to hear any complaining.  You’ve had a busy day and you need to follow her orders.”

James groaned with disapproval as he swallowed the pills down with a glass of water.  “Sometimes I wonder if she’s as good a nurse as she claims to be,” he said.  “It seems like the last few days her therapy has done nothing but make me feel weak and exhausted all the time.  I had more feeling in my legs weeks ago than I do now.”

Brooke frowned and put a hand alongside his face.  “That doesn’t seem right,” she said with concern.  “Is she maybe working you too hard?”

He shrugged.  “No more than usual.  It’s probably all these pills she’s cramming down my throat every time I turn around.”

Brooke pulled the covers over her body and nestled against the pillow.  “I’m sure she knows what she’s doing,” she said.  “She came with recommendations, right?”

He nodded.  “Yeah, I suppose.  I guess it’s just the excitement of the last few days that’s taken a toll on me.  Maybe now that things are calmer I’ll start making some progress again.”

Brett Armstrong

Gwen held onto the cold, steel metal of the shoulder press bars as Brett entered her from behind.  The sweat ran from his face as he worked feverishly at pleasing her.  Minutes later, she collapsed onto the bench in the gym at the Blackthorne mansion and panted with exhaustion.

Brett, barely recovered from his workout, quickly pulled on his lounge pants and wiped his face and chest with a towel.  “You’d better hurry and get dressed,” he said between taking gulps of air.  “This house is too full to be taking chances like this."

She languidly reached for her robe, slightly put off by Brett’s cold post-coital manners.  “Well no one twisted your arm, you know,” she barked and quickly got dressed.  “You were the one who started this affair, you know.”

Sensing her mood shift, he instinctively put a hand gently alongside her face and caressed it softly.  “Hey, I didn’t mean anything.  I just think we have a good thing going here and I don’t want to risk blowing it.”

“You mean you don’t want to risk blowing your cushy lifestyle here,” she corrected him with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.  “Well I get it.  Maybe you’d be happier if we just called this whole thing off.  You can get your jollies from your wife from now on.”

“What’s eating you?”

She sighed and dropped her hands to her sides.  “I don’t know,” she said with resignation.  “It’s just that Mr. Blackthorne has been having a hard time with our therapy lately.  Ever since I started giving him those pills you gave me.”

Refusing to panic, Brett calmly folded his arms across his chest and tried to appear unphased by her concern.   “I don’t think one thing has anything to do with the other,” he began with calculated coolness.  “I told you those pills were just a mood enhancer.  If anything they should be increasing his drive to start walking again.”

Gwen hesitated and shrugged indifferently.  “Maybe I’ll ask a doctor.  Just to be safe.  I wouldn’t want to get doing anything that could cause him a setback.”

“Don’t!” Brett exclaimed loudly, then immediately regretted his outburst.  He could see the shocked look on Gwen’s face.  “I mean, there’s no need for that.  I told you my therapist prescribed them to me.  There’s no side effects.  I should know.”

“Well I don’t know what else to think.”

“Maybe James is reaching a point where he’s feeling the effects of the therapy,” Brett said eagerly.  “You know, you’re working him harder so he’s feeling drained.  I’m sure it’s a natural scenario.”

Gwen shrugged and attempted a smile.  “I guess you’re probably right,” she said.  “I’ll wait and see what happens in the next few days.”

“Good,” Brett said with a relieved smile.  He couldn’t let his plan to permanently immobilize James be ruined.  Because as soon as James was up and walking again, he would return to his position at Sunset Studios.  Then he’d be left with nothing but playing tennis all day at Hotel Terranova like the lackey husband of a spoiled Daddy’s girl.

Stormy Blackthorne

The next morning, Stormy sat on the shoulder press bench in the gym at the Blackthorne mansion, pulling the steel bar down with brute force, grunting and sweating with every repetition.

After he finished his set, he stood up and grabbed a fresh towel from the bin nearby and blotted his face and neck.   He started across the room just as Brett entered dressed in his workout clothes.  Their eyes locked briefly until the tension was interrupted when James wheeled into the room.  He appeared pale and weak, his eyes glossed over and his breathing shallow.

“Dad, are you okay?” Stormy asked, suddenly forgetting about Brett.  “You don’t look very good.”

James loosened his collar and nodded dismissively.  “Yes, I’m just a little tired,” he said and quickly changed the subject.  “Listen, I’m glad you’re both here because there’s something I want to talk to you about.”

“What is it, James?” Brett asked, always prepared to jump when asked.

“Brett, I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and Miranda, and most importantly for Sunset Studios,” James began.  “You’ve done an excellent job.”

Brett gulped and nodded with a vague smile.  He didn’t like the direction James’s announcement was going.  “You’re welcome, sir.  It’s the least I could do.”

Stormy watched Brett squirm and wondered if his father had decided to listen to him about Brett after all.  He could only hope.  It was about time someone knocked Brett off his high horse and put him in his place.

“But Stormy’s back home now and I couldn’t be happier,” James went on.  “To have my son and daughter in the same house again is like a dream come true for me.  However, I also know that you, Brett, are partly the reason that Miranda is still here.  And although it’s selfish, it makes me happy, so I have to thank you for that.”

Brett and Stormy listened intently, hanging on James’s every word.

“So I’ve done a lot of thinking and I’ve decided that while I’m here at home recuperating, I’d like you both to run Sunset Studios for me,” James declared.  “You’ll both divide the responsibilities and be equals in the business.  I hope you can handle that.”

The news came as a shattering blow to Brett.  What kind of thankless dribble was James spouting?  Since he’d taken over running the business, things had been better than they had in years.  They had acquired some of the top movies and stars in the business.  And it was all thanks to him.  Now he was reducing his responsibilities so he could give his son a handout?  No, it wasn’t fair.

“Dad, that’s great,” Stormy said with a smile.  He was pleased to be back in his father’s good graces, but still couldn’t help but be a little skeptical of Brett’s continued influence on the business.  At least now he’d have the opportunity to keep an eye on him.

“Yes, that’s great news,” Brett said, feigning excitement.

“Can I count on the two of you to get along and work together without any problems?” James asked with a furrowed brow.  “Because I don’t want any horns locking.  If you can’t make this thing work then I’ll have to hire someone from the outside to run things, and God knows I don’t want an outsider running my studio for me.”

“I think we can manage,” Stormy said with a smirk.

“Yes, I think so,” Brett said, turning to Stormy and firmly shaking his hand.  “I’ll look forward to teaching Stormy some things I’ve learned in the last few months.”

“Good,” James said just as Gwen entered the room and handed him his pills and a cup of water.   “God damnit.  What are these things supposed to do anyway?”

“They’re vitamins,” Gwen assured him, giving Brett a brief once-over as James took the pills as instructed.

After they’d gone, Stormy gave Brett a threatening glare and patted him on the shoulder before leaving the room.   Brett gritted his teeth and angrily kicked the side of the treadmill.  He hadn’t expected this to happen.  Stormy was going to come in and try to show him up and take away everything he’d worked for.  

He’d have to be ready for battle.  Stormy Blackthorne wouldn’t know what hit him by the time he got through with him. 

Brooke Taylor

Brooke made her way into the dining room from the kitchen.  She scouted around and noticed a breeze coming through the floor to ceiling windows on the far wall off the room.   The curtains billowed inside and she frowned, taking a few steps forward and noticing that the window was wide open.  Frowning, she reached over to close it when she heard a noise from behind. 

Spinning around quickly, she saw a dark figure move across the room.  The intruders face was hidden by the shadows and she cowered away in fear.   Frozen for a second, the figure darted to the left, then to the right, knocking over a tray of silver service to the floor and causing a clanging racket. 

She heard James in the foyer calling after her and she opened her mouth to scream for him.  By the time she did, the intruder was rushing past her and flying back out the window. 

Seconds later, James wheeled himself into the dining room and flashed Brooke a look of panic and concern.  “Darling, what is it?”

Her eyes closed briefly and then fluttered.  Moments later she slumped to the floor unconscious.

Blackthorne Mansion

Brooke woke and found herself lying in her own bed upstairs.  James sat next to her in his chair while Gwen dabbed a cold cloth on her forehead.  She looked around to get her bearings and sat up with a start.

“Shhh,” Gwen said soothingly.  “You fainted.  Just take it easy for a few minutes.”

“What?” Brooke said, slightly disoriented.

“Darling, are you all right?” James asked, holding her hand in his.  “I heard you scream and you turned white as a ghost.  What happened?”

After catching her breath, Brooke laid back down and tried to calm her nerves.  “There was a man,” she said breathlessly.

“A man?” James asked with a frown.

She nodded.  “Someone.  A man.  He came in through the window in the dining room.  He was wearing all black.  Then you called for me and he went back out the window.”

James and Gwen exchanged looks and then Gwen felt her forehead.  “You’re a little warm,” she said.  “Sometimes in later stages of pregnancy your imagination can run overdrive.”

She shook her head insistently.  “It wasn’t my imagination,” she said in a panic.  “I saw a man in the house.  And the other day outside the boutique..."

“You saw him at the boutique?  Did you get a look at his face?” James asked.

Squinting in concentration, Brooke shook her head in frustration.  “No, but I know what I saw.  It was a man – or someone – a person.  James, you have to believe me.”

He nodded and patted her hand lightly.  “I do, Darling.”  He backed up in his chair and started for the door.  “I’m going to have every inch of the grounds checked.”

Gwen followed him out into the hallway and caught up with him.  “Mr. Blackthorne, let me go,” she said.  “You should stay with your wife.”

“Don’t tell me what I should do,” James insisted.  “If my wife says someone broke into our house in the middle of the day then I’m not just going to sit back and do nothing.  Now help me down the stairs.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Gwen insisted.  “You’re upset.  You need to calm down and let someone else handle this.”

Refusing to let her talk him out of it, James wheeled himself over to the landing and lowered the footrests.  “Fine, then I’ll get down by myself,” he said and began pulling himself up out of the chair.  He knew he could do it.  There were times when he had moments of strength where he felt that he could stand on his own.  Maybe the adrenaline caused by Brooke’s spell was enough to propel him to find the strength.

“Mr. Blackthorne, don’t!” Gwen cried and tried to push him back down in the chair. 

They struggled for a moment and James pushed her away, sending her crashing into the wall in the hallway.   He summoned all of this strength and slowly rose to his feet.  For a split second he felt on top of the world.  Not since before the surgery had he been able to stand on his own. 

Struggling, he moved his left foot forward and stepped down onto the first stair, the sensation elating him from head to toe.  Suddenly he felt an overwhelming sense of weakness and his knees buckled, sending him crashing to the stairs and tumbling down all the way to the bottom landing in the foyer.

Gwen jumped to her feet and looked down the stairs in horror.  James was lying motionless, his eyes closed and his face pale and listless. 

 


 Next time....

Alex receives a visitor from the past.   Dr. Farraday finds something suspicious in James's bloodstream.  Gwen gets surprising news.  4th of July celebrations are clouded with uncertainty.  

 

 

 

 Read Episode 28

 

 


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